Animator

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Animators bring drawings and computer generated characters to life on screen.

Salary Range: £14,000 to £36,000

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How to become an animator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by private training providers
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University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. The most useful courses include practical skills and work placements. Relevant courses include:

  • animation
  • art and design
  • computer games development
  • animation production
  • visual effects

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You could do a college course that will teach you some of the skills you’ll need to get started as a junior animator. Courses include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Creative and Digital Media
  • Level 3 Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You could take an advanced or higher apprenticeship in creative and digital media, or visual effects. This may help you to get a job as an animation assistant.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

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Work

You could start as an animation ‘runner’ and work your way up to:

  • digital painter
  • inbetweener
  • assistant animator
  • animator

Volunteering and experience

You may find it useful to do some related voluntary or paid work. You can contact broadcasting companies, advertising agencies, animation studios or computer games companies to find out about work experience opportunities.

Other routes

You could take short courses in animation skills and software packages run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers.

More information

Career tips

You’ll need a showreel and portfolio to highlight your best animation work and ideas. Make your work easy to find, either on your own website or blog, or on a video-sharing website.

Further information

You can get advice about working as an animator from ScreenSkills.

You can also find out more about working in the creative industries from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks will depend on the type of animation you’re doing but may include:

  • visualising storyboard and script ideas
  • using animation software or hand drawn techniques to create characters and scenes
  • adding lighting, shading and special effects
  • painting in backgrounds and character colours
  • adding textures to digital models
  • using motion capture methods to create lifelike expressions and movements
  • using stop-motion techniques to film 3D models
  • combining separate layers of animation into one to create the final product

Working environment

You could work in an office, from home or in a creative studio.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress from animator to lead animator and animation director.

You could also work for larger animation studios, games developers, interactive media designers or video post-production firms.

You might decide to go freelance or start your own studio.